The Portuguese predictably arrived in Turin to a grand reception with fans assembling by the thousands for a glimpse at their new superstar.
One man who won’t be getting carried away with all the hype and fanfare though is Massimiliano Allegri.
The Italian will undoubtedly be thrilled with such a valuable and extravagant addition to his side’s roster but like any high-end asset, Ronaldo demands sophisticated management and plenty of maintenance.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner could just as easily prove to be detrimental to the Serie A giants if not utilised properly and it’s Allegri’s job to devise a system that strikes the right balance between getting the most out of Ronaldo without compromising the rest of the team.
Gonzalo Higuain appears to be on his way out of the Allianz Stadium and that perhaps takes one variable out of the equation for the Juventus coach.
Juventus were renowned for their three-man defence under Antonio Conte while Allegri used the system in the season before last as well. The set-up is certainly alien to Ronaldo though, who has never featured prominently in it.
However, he has plenty of experience to cope with new formations and at this stage of his career, could thrive in a 3-4-1-2 system. A strong back-line of Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Mehdi Benatia lay the foundations while Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro make for attacking wing-backs, providing the width.
Sami Khedira could find his playing time limited this season but the German has plenty to offer in this system as Juventus will need someone to screen the defence, especially with Miralem Pjanic focused on distribution.
Paulo Dybala will link-up with Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo in attack but will also drift wide to overload the flanks, creating opportunities to cross, thus capitalising on the aerial supremacy of the front pair.
The interchange between Dybala and Mandzukic could also drag central defenders around, allowing Ronaldo to make darting runs in behind. This system could be deployed against teams who sit deep and look to frustrate the Bianconeri.
Should Allegri opt for a back four, Joao Cancelo will likely start at right-back while Barzagli is relegated to the bench. Cuadrado’s ejection makes way for an extra man in central midfield and a double pivot of Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi would provide both cover and drive.
Douglas Costa comes into the fold on the right as one of the three behind Ronaldo up front while Mandzukic features on the left, a position he’s grown accustomed to with the Serie A giants.
That means the diagonal ball from Pjanic to Mandzukic allows Juventus to get the ball into the final third in space relatively quickly and the Croatian can look to find Ronaldo with a knockdown or lay it off for an onrushing Dybala.
This system also offers the Portuguese the freedom to drift wide to the left on occasion and allow Mandzukic move centrally. Costa’s inswinging crosses could feature prominently as well with either the Croatian or Ronaldo – peeling off to the back post – using their aerial supremacy against the full-back on the opposite side.
If Allegri is keen to use Ronaldo on the left, a 4-3-3 would be in order. With several Serie A sides boasting compact shapes and central defenders who sit deep, the 33-year-old could be in danger of getting bogged down in the physical battle if he’s played alone up front.
While he’s more than adept at coping with the challenge, he’s far more dangerous when he’s facing goal and that’s where playing from the left can benefit him.
The back five remains the same but the newly recruited Emre Can from Liverpool could be ideal in an anchorman role over Khedira.
The midfielder is more mobile than his compatriot and more assured in possession as well. Deploying Matuidi on the left side of centre midfield enables him to cover the space behind Ronaldo who won’t be expected to track back, thereby being perfectly positioned on the counter.
The Portuguese would also have the freedom to tuck in and invite Sandro to overlap while interchanging with Mandzukic on occasion as well.
This 4-3-3 formation varies mainly in terms of the personnel involved but that’s enough to make subtle tweaks to the system that changes the dynamic.
It has a more attack-minded theme to it perhaps to tackle lesser opposition. Rodrigo Bentancur comes in for Matuidi while Dybala replaces Mandzukic in the forward line.
However, Ronaldo plays through the middle in this scenario with Costa moving to the left to guarantee width in attack while the Argentine plays from the right instead.
This system sets Juventus up well to break quickly in the transition but also enables Dybala to drift centrally and create openings in possession.
While Ronaldo often played in a 4-4-2 formation in his first couple of seasons at Manchester United, it seldom brought the best out of him as he was made to operate from wide areas.
The system has been more kind to him in recent times though as Zinedine Zidane often used him in a front two with either Karim Benzema or Gareth Bale with Isco operating at the tip of a diamond midfield.
However, Portugal’s variation of the formation may be best suited for Juventus and Ronaldo. Fernando Santos played the forward in a front two with Goncalo Guedes on a couple of occasions at the World Cup with mixed results.
Playing Dybala along with Ronaldo at Juventus could work with the Argentine’s link-up play coming to the fore. His dropping off into midfield could also drag a defender out of position and create space for Ronaldo to make runs in behind.
The four across midfield maintains a compact shape while Matuidi’s role on the left is key as Juventus can morph into a 4-3-3 during a prolonged spell of possession. Cuadrado’s industry gives him the nod over Costa as he’ll have to shuttle between midfield and the forward line depending on the phase of play.
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